Tuesday, June 25, 2013

A Cart Before No Horse

Title: A Cart Before No Horse

What do you think when you see this image? Do you simply see an old carriage in disrepair? Is there a story that comes to mind when you look at it? Do you see the era, the people who may have used it, or the setting that it might have been used in when it was new?

Images captured by anyone who seeks to hold a moment for all time, should attempt to see the story before they ever put the camera up to their eye. Even those who take photographs for that family vacation should take a moment and gather the story they are trying to tell before snapping that image for posterity. We all have the time to exercise the skill of story telling with the photos we make.

Practicing this is easy and after a while it becomes second nature. It will improve the images you make whether they be for fun or profession and it is something so easy to do. The key is to relax a little before you pull the shutter button. Take in everything surrounding your subject.

For instance, in the image above I had to walk around the block to capture the small wooded area around the cart before I was satisfied with the background. There were still modern elements that I was unable to avoid, such as the chain link fence just behind the carriage. I sought to disguise it with the woods in the background.

The story I wanted to tell was that of a bygone age where the horse and buggy were the primary mode of transportation. I wanted the image to reflect that era where photographs took minutes to make using a large format camera, and aged and yellowed over time. I changed the setting in my camera to a sepia tone to lend to this end. My thought before I shot was to tell the story of this carriage by eliciting a historical response from the viewer.

Anyone can do what I attempted to do in capturing this photograph. It only took a very few minutes to survey the surroundings and then an itty bitty walk to create the setting I desired. The result was greater character and meaning for the subject.

Do you want your photographs to have a deeper, grander meaning? Then take a moment to put your subjects in the right setting. You move to seek the best background or surrounding, or have your subject move. Even personal photographs can be manipulated to have more character and meaning based on what surrounds your family or friends if one relaxes and takes a moment to look around them.

Friday, June 21, 2013

Late Night, Early Morning

I am not sure. Is it late night or early morning? One way or the other I am awake having had little sleep.

The brain is funny thing. Sometimes mine allows me to sleep the whole night through. Most times I wake, or I am awakened, I do have teenagers living in my house after all, and find that I cannot return to sleep. My imagination takes over and I need to get to my notebook right away to get those thoughts that have forced themselves into my post wake consciousnesses down in writing.

Some of my most creative moments have come from these times between sleep and wake. It seems as though I am dreaming my way through line after line and with each the story produced by my overactive imagination grows to something quite unbelievable. I overreach when tired and that thing that hooks a reader, believe-ability, is lost; in turn so is my direction.

The brain can be a tired thing. In the end I do not return to bed, because although my direction in the telling of the story is lost, I am wide awake and another notebook demands my attention. I have allowed my adrenaline to rise too high in getting those initial imaginings down on paper. 

The result is a form of emotional high that lasts for hours. That is when the real writing begins. My brain fully awake, begins to craft and direct the new lines found in a different notebook where the real stories are produced.

I am not sure, is a statement I make much too often in the middle of the night, or early morning depending. One day I may go back to the imaginings written in that first notebook in those moments of complete dreariness. For now I am content to just spill what I have imagined and later crafted to the page in hopes that tomorrow night I will sleep the whole night through.

I am reminded of a song from many years ago where
night time was a fun time, but only as long as sleep
was soon.
"I wear my sunglasses at night, so I can, so I can..."

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Pissed to Placid

Me, A Brother Grim
I felt exactly how I look in this photo during
the shooting of it.
Photograph courtesy of Paul Dennison,
Dennison Digital Design.

One of the things that has always amazed me about people is their moods and attitudes based on settings and circumstances. It is interesting that people can change on a dime, for good or bad, where the right or wrong stimulus is applied. Their reaction can be pissed to placid, scary to comfortable, but at every level it is real.

I am no different. I too have my moments of attitudinal lows and highs. It happens to all of us. Just as it does not make others crazy for being that way from time to time, neither does it make me (there was a little prayer that went up with that last statement). We are human and as such we sometimes can react in a way that is handy at the time.

A week ago Sunday Paul Dennison and I went out to photograph a series of bad boy biker photos. The series is now known as The Brothers Grim, because most of the shots of he and I turned out very grim indeed. We spent the afternoon and evening shooting each other posing on Paul's motorcycle (her name is Veronica) and one result is what you see above.  The strange thing is that Paul captured my mood in the moment perfectly. I was absolutely irritated, aggravated, and all around pissed, because of the way I was feeling. He did not have to prompt me at all to bring out in me what he did, because I was already there in attitude; I was truly Grim.

Paul is a fellow photographer, but first and foremost he is one of my very best friends. We have seen each other through much, both good and bad. He can read me like a book (a book with pictures that is), and much like my wife (which is frightening in and of itself) can see my moods when I am a mile away. The weeks previous to The Brothers Grim shoot Paul saw something negative in me that was building. He knew instinctively that I was a big beautiful rainbow clad bubble ready to pop.

Last Saturday night Paul suggested that we spend some time out together the coming Monday night. He is getting ready to leave for California and thought that we might hang out one evening before he leaves. I agreed and looked forward to getting out for an evening; man time, awesome.

Monday rolled around and I decided I should ask what Paul had in mind for our little outing. He said, "How about a beach?" I admit I was a little confused. Those who know me well hear me talk about going to the beach incessantly. I live in Utah however, so a "real" ocean beach is not an option for an evening outing.

"Where?" I asked.

"I was thinking Pineview Reservoir," he said.

Pineview Reservoir is a man made lake situated in Ogden Valley east of Ogden, Utah. And yes, it has beaches.

"Great idea," I said.

Paul picked me up Monday evening and off we went. No cameras -- other than our cell phones -- some liquor, and wine coolers. Yes, wine coolers, this is a bromance I'm talking about here, and where one might think beer would be appropriate, it simply was not. Everyone knows that Strawberry Daiquiris are appropriate for the beach; don't they? 

Three kids float on fallen trees in Pineview Reservoir
while Paul and I wait for the light to fade.

A little while later we were on a beach at the reservoir. The light was fading, and while we waited for the light to completely disappear, we drank a little and watched the kids play in the water. It was very relaxing.

Then the light was gone and the beach emptied. It was just the two of us with our feet buried in the soft sand completely amazed by the stars above. The sky was unimpeded by the city lights, so they popped bright.

We talked, drank some more, went silent, and the process was repeated over and again for hours. It was the very thing I needed to keep that bubble from popping. I was in an instant placid as the water that stretched out before me. My pissed attitude that had drawn out for weeks was gone and replaced by something much more positive.

I tell you this story, because I want to remind you that sometimes life can get the best of us. But there are ways to push through it. For you it maybe not be a beach, but there is something that you do connect with that can in the smallest way ease the tension you may be feeling about life.

I want to encourage you to do what Paul and I did. You might like being alone, but having someone to share it with makes the moment that much more poignant. We all need a time to reset our moods and attitudes. Take a little bit of it to do just that. See if it does not help you in some grand way to regain a positive perspective.

I want to thank Paul for seeing in me what he saw and having the foresight to think outside the box. He is very good at thinking beyond the scope of normal and I appreciate him for exercising this weirdness in him to my benefit. It was SO worth the little bit of time it took to get there.

The title of this shot of me should be "Placid".
Another photograph courtesy of Paul.
My next little project is to take my wife to that very spot at Pineview Reservoir, drink, relax, and provide an opportunity for her to reset. I believe she would truly enjoy the opportunity to do so. I know that we as a couple need times like the one I propose and that we need them to happen often. I want thank her for graciously allowing me the man time I needed. I am truly the luckiest of men where she is concerned.

Friday, June 7, 2013

Write It, Speak It, Just Try It

Paul Dennison, The Wog!
A prime example in the importance of
total self-expression.
Be yourself.
This morning I was writing in my Writer's Journal and realized that by doing so I was dumping much of my insecurity about the writing that I do. Most writers will tell you that the writing that they do is horrible when they first seek to tell a story. I am no different. The initial writing I do for any story I am attempting to tell comes out awful in the beginning.

My Writer's Journal allows me to dump the feelings I have about anything and everything I write for the benefit of others. The journal itself serves a couple of purposes, because although it is a journal that primarily deals with writing, sometimes things about my day appear in it. I don't know why this is, it just is. I have been known to even dump a dream, or two, to it when the dream is a very strange one.

When I began journaling on November 30, 2011 I had no idea that it would blossom in to the thing that it became. By November 30, 2012 I had written some 220,000 words (to put that in to perspective, I wrote almost a quarter of million words) and as I looked back on my entries I discovered that many dealt with the frustration I felt over not accomplishing what I had set out to do daily with my written work. This brought me to a realization about how I perceive myself as a person who desires to be writer. By the way, it looks as though I will write more this year than last, which absolutely blows my mind.

The realization is this, I am like anyone else who is trying to accomplish something important to them. What? Am I to believe that I am the only one to become frustrated with themselves over an important, dare I say life changing, goal? No. I am like anyone else and my journaling reflects that completely and is a valuable tool in understanding this very important lesson about life in general.

I might make a recommendation to you as you look to invest in your future. It is to record in some way what you are experiencing as you move toward your goals. I choose to write, because I like to write. I keep it very simple; a composition notebook, a pen (a very special pen), and about an hour of time.

You might not like to write, so I might recommend to you a voice recording device of some kind. Most cell phones have a recording application on them where you can record your thoughts and download them to your computer. Digital recording devices are extremely inexpensive now, so maybe that is an option. There is also software that will convert what you speak to the written page, so you can have written record of your thoughts.

Possibly you draw or paint or have talents in other artistic mediums. It is possible to take an hour and draw or storyboard your day. The point is to express yourself in someway that releases the way you are feeling, whether it be good or bad. A big fan of photography, I have been known to get out and just shoot something, anything, that reflects my mood. I have done this alone and with fellow photographers.

My point in all of this is to share with you what I have discovered about expressing myself. It is to let go. For me, once my insecurities are down on paper they seem to dissolve away. It is that I needed to get it off my chest in order to move forward. I needed to let of it to get on with it.

I hope by sharing this little bit of experience it helps you discover ways to better accomplish what you have set out to do. Confidence in one's self is sometimes something that is difficult to first attain and then maintain. By dumping the negativity you may feel by writing it, speaking it, or just releasing it you may be very surprised to discover down the road that you have come far in your journey to accomplish the goals you have set for yourself.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Blogging Again

Yep! That's me. A big thanks to Paul Dennison of Dennison
Digital Design for this great of photograph of your's

It has been a very long time since I made any kind of blog entry. I ran a photography blog for so many years that it is difficult for me to focus on other topics. But this new blog is an effort to do that very thing.

Things in my life have changed dramatically since the last time I wrote anything for the web. Photography has taken a backseat to writing. I'm currently working on several projects that I hope will yield results in the world and craft of writing. I love the fact that I made a change in my focus however.

The land of opportunity has taken new shape for me as I have attempted to move forward with what I believe to be my true calling. I no longer find myself drawn to the image that makes up a story, rather I am drawn to the story itself, which is a new mindset for me. One would think that I would have discovered this long ago. What can I say? I guess I am a late bloomer.

No matter though, because I am living in the here and now. My hope here is to share with you the little journeys I experience; maybe some big ones too. This is a simple blog and have no desire to "go big". My desire is simple. I just want to share with those who are interested a little about me and the adventures I may take, both physically and mentally.

I look forward to obsessing over topic after topic. I also looking forward to sharing with you, whoever you might be. So, sit back and relax. It is an expectation by the way; to relax that is.

This is my opening entry, so expect, as well, to see new a entry about once a week. I am lazy anymore with keeping to strict schedules where artistry is concerned. Simply put, it does not work. At least it does not for me.

Until next time... Just a thought. There is no right of way in a round about, at least in my experience there is not. So, get in where you can, but try not to be rude in the process.